Advocate for Libraries

We urge library supporters to ask all members of Senate Judiciary Committee to pass S. 290, the USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act of 2011. For the latest on PATRIOT ACT advocacy, visit our blog, District Dispatch.

Talking points:  Please support S. 290. 

  1. With the pending sunset of February 28, 2011, for Section 215 (the “library provision”), S. 290 is an important step toward improving the balance between the needs of law enforcement and the protection of our civil liberties. 
  2. The library community supports additional judicial oversight for use of these surveillance tools when they implicate reader privacy.
  3. We also support the codification of the reforms adopted voluntarily by Attorney General Eric Holder. 
  4. The library community also supports a new sunset for National Security Letters (NSLs) and the repeal of the presumption of relevance for certain Section 215 orders. Restoring the constitutional rights of gag order recipients is another important provision. These sections are extremely important to assure accountability and transparency.
  5. A new 2013 sunset will ensure that these critically important issues will not be entangled in presidential election year politics.

BACKGROUND:  The U.S. Senate kicks off debate again on reauthorization of three key sections of the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, scheduled to sunset on February 28, 2011.  The three sections include Section 215 on business records – often referred to as the “library provision.”  The other two sections to sunset are the “lone wolf” and roving wiretap provisions. 

Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (VT-D) introduced S. 290 on February 3rd. 

Leahy’s proposal is essentially the same legislative language in S.1692 RS previously passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 111th Congress in October 2009.  By introducing almost identical language, Leahy hopes to obtain critical bipartisan votes from senators that voted for S.1692 in 2009. 

ALA and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) sent a letter (pdf) on to Chairman Leahy supporting this bill under its previous number, S. 193. 

OTHER PERTINENT BILLS:   While ALA supports S. 290 other bills have been introduced that would merely extend the current sunset dates without making changes to the three sections.  Information about these other bills taken from http://www.thomas.gov.

Sponsor: Rep Rogers, Mike J. [MI-8] (introduced 1/5/2011)      Cosponsors (None)
Committees: House Judiciary; House Intelligence (Permanent Select) Latest Major Action: 1/24/2011 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

H.R.514 : To extend expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 relating to access to business records, individual terrorists as agents of foreign powers, and roving wiretaps until December 8, 2011.

Sponsor: Rep Sensenbrenner, F. James, Jr. [WI-5] (introduced 1/26/2011)      Cosponsors (2)
Committees: House Judiciary; House Intelligence (Permanent Select) Latest Major Action: 1/26/2011 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Intelligence (Permanent Select), for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

 S.149 : A bill to extend the expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 until December 31, 2013, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Feinstein, Dianne [CA] (introduced 1/25/2011)   Cosponsors (None)
Committees: Senate Judiciary.  Latest Major Action: 1/25/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

The three bills under consideration are:

Current Senate Legislation
Bill Number Description Title Sponsor

S. 289

A bill to extend expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 until December 31, 2013, and for other purposes.

FISA Sunsets Extension Act of 2011

Feinstein [CA]

S. 290

A bill to extend the sunset of certain provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, and for other purposes.

USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act of 2011

Leahy
[VT]

S. 291

A bill to repeal the sunset provisions in the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and other related provisions and permanently reauthorize the USA PATRIOT Act.

USA PATRIOT Reauthorization Act of 2011

McConnell [KY]